NAIAS 2018 | Episode 14 : Acura

Acura debuted a prototype of the new RDX SUV — although it looked very much like a full production car to us.  The evolutionary design is a nice improvement on the old model starting up front with a new grille.  The much maligned “beak” look that Acura was using is now happily a thing of the past.  The new, black grille is framed in chrome with a central Acura logo.  The textured surface looks like a “starburst” around the logo.  The bodyside has several strong features lines diving in different directions and an interesting stylized “X” shape in the D-Pillar.  The hood has one of the more unusual shapes that we have seen recently.  There are two strongly raised feature lines that curve outwards from the corners of the grille, then sweep suddenly inwards to the trailing edge of the hood.  It looks a bit like a shallow bowl, but it works and overall we like the RDX a lot.  A perfect fit for Acura.

The interior is typical Acura and quite pleasing, but the infotainment screen looks like an iPad emerging from the instrument panel.  We thought that designers had moved beyond the “add on screen” look by now…

NAIAS 2017 | Episode 12 : Honda – Acura

Honda introduced the all-new Odyssey minivan at the NAIAS. It is fresh, but with evolutionary styling, a stronger, but lighter body and a formidable array of new features and options. The minivan market maybe smaller and with fewer players than it once had, but it is still fought over with unrelenting ferocity.
Honda uses lots of descriptors for design elements and features, so forgive us if we use a few in this article. The signature “Solid Wing” grille or face is familiar, but freshened, lower and wider for improved aero. The belt-line “Lightning Bolt” is a bit more elegant and now incorporates hidden sliding door tracks at long last. The body side is more sculptured, but with too many lines and angles for our taste. The lights are LED’s all round.

The interior is a key area of focus, it is after all a people hauler. The instrument panel is dominated by a central, high-mounted infotainment screen. The “Magic Slide” second row seats move front-to-back and side-to-side for easy access. The “Cabin Watch” camera feature allows parents to keep a close eye on what is happening in the second and third rows. The “Cabin Talk” feature is like an in-car public address system that allows easier communication throughout the vehicle. All good stuff!

Not much new from Acura this year, but we can at least lust after the now ‘fully in production’, drop dead gorgeous NSX. There was also an example of a racing version on display for good measure.

NAIAS 2015 : AMERICA IS BACK ! – Part V [end]

Acura made the biggest splash among the Japanese brands with the long awaited production version of the Acura NSX.  The car is stunning, as well as being a technological tour de force.  Interestingly, the production design was completed in the US by a team led by Michelle Christensen, the engineering/development was done in the US and the manufacturing will be conducted in a new ‘craft centre’ at the Honda plant in Ohio.  Full marks to Honda for allowing the vehicle to be developed outside Japan and in its major market.  The final version is faithful to the concept model, even though the packaging went through several iterations to accommodate various different powertrain permutations and the dimensions grew in both length and width.  The end result is suitably dramatic from all angles — if only we could drive one.
During the press days Honda displayed their fuel cell concept, presumably to match the one also found on the Toyota stand.  Neither car is particularly attractive, but they are distinctive and standing out is certainly an appropriate goal for a vehicle powered by this future technology.  Now all we need is a hydrogen infrastructure……..
Honda also demonstrated their racing prowess with a display featuring the Honda powered 2014 Indy 500 winner and the 1965 Mexican GP winning F1 car.  We look forward to the return of Honda to F1 this season.
Toyota displayed the FT-1 concept car again — this time with gunmetal grey metallic paint.  Frankly it looked a lot better than with last year’s red paint job.  The big introduction for Toyota in Detroit was the new mid-sized Tacoma truck.  No big design breakthroughs here so let’s move on to Lexus.  The signature “bobbin” grilles are getting bigger and bigger, but they are still hard to love.  If you can get past the grilles, there are some decent looking products available from this brand — the GSF 4-door and the RCF coupe being two great examples.  The ground hugging GT3 racing version of the RCF coupe painted in bright white made a dramatic statement and a strong declaration of intent.
Nissan’s big news was also on the truck side of the business with the introduction of an all-new Titan full-sized pick-up.  Neither Nissan nor Toyota have been as successful in the large truck market as they expected, but this is probably another step in the right direction for Nissan, especially with a brand new V8 Cummins diesel available under the hood.
The Infiniti Q60 concept was one of the most interesting designs at the show.  The Q60 is 2-door coupe (yes, really!) with strong and interesting design cues from front to rear.  The front end is dramatic, with sinister ‘hooded’ headlamps, a bold grille with a large illuminated emblem and two large lower air intakes with integrated fog lamps terminating in bold character lines sweeping up towards the headlamps.  The side view is equally strong with big wheels, deep sculptured panels and an interesting quarter window termination.  The theme continues in the rear with bold shapes around the exhausts an integrated decklid spoiler and taillamps that echo the “hooded eyes” of the front.  Let’s hope they build this one!
It is good to see the success of Jaguar/Land Rover under Tata management.  Jaguar introduced the XE sedan (a BMW 3-Series fighter) at the show to complete their range of handsome sedans.  The XE has the appearance of being a little bigger than the BMW, but in our opinion it is the best looking of the three cars.  Land Rover came to the show with the latest version of the Discovery and some new diesel powered models.


All in all the Detroit show was good this year.  The atmosphere was upbeat and confident with some stunning designs to grab our attention.  The 4 cars that stood out for us were the Ford GT, the Acura NSX, the Buick Avenir and the Infiniti Q60.
Now it is on to Geneva.


Honda, like Toyota, continues to pursue the fuel cell as a future energy source, unfortunately the FCEV concept that they displayed was a bit too extreme for mainstream appeal.  Like the failed Honda Insight, there are elements of the car that would probably make it “sale proof”!  The front end is interesting with wide splits or vents that extend from the bottom edge of the front fascia all the way to the windshield.  Viewed from the side or the rear, however, the car just looks ponderous and heavy.  We are sure that the covered rear wheels, long roof and high tail all contribute to a low drag coefficient (although the relatively wide body must be a negative) they add up to a car that is just not appealing – environmentally friendly though it may be.
Honda also introduced the next generation Fit.  Aside from the ugly yellow color on one of the cars, the new version is well executed but rather boring.  The prior generation made a statement as a ‘tall’ car, the new one may get lost in the crowd.
Acura unveiled the TLX concept, a conservatively styled 4 door, which we understand, is very close to the production version on the TL replacement.  The stance is strong, the overall impression is somewhat sporty, the 5 square LED headlamps give it a unique look and, finally, here is a design where the Acura grill actually works.